By Opinion Editor Aria Lakhmani
Don’t Let Your Passion Chain You Down
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking with friends who have already graduated to gain some insight into how life as a college student will be. As I’ve watched their eyes light up while talking about their major or research they are conducting, I’ve come to grasp how broad academia is and how little of it I’ve been exposed to. This feeling was initially claustrophobic: I felt tied down to my intended major and scared that I’d never be able to explore all that I want to. But, I’m starting to realize that my intended major isn’t a ball-and-chain.
Throughout high school, we hear how we’re supposed to take X classes to show interest in X major we’d like to pursue in the future — take Anatomy and Physiology if you’re interested in medical school, or C++ and Discrete Math if you’re a coder! Similarly, personal projects and club participation seem to have to align with what you think your career will be in — National Arts Honors Society is a must if you’re pursuing art, and publishing a book is a great way to spend your free time if you’re planning to become a writer! To an extent, these encouragements are helpful — after all, delving deeper helps us become more immersed in the field that we like and demonstrates passion for a program we might be applying for. However, we’ve begun to treat these classes and activities simply as prerequisites, of sorts, to a career, minimizing them to boxes to tick off. Not only does this limit our perception of broad fields to a few facets but this also turns people away from exploration, making them feel like their intended major is keeping them from exploring other avenues. Students with saturated schedules may feel like taking a class, attending a club, or pursuing a project that isn’t in line with the career they have in mind is a waste of time. I’ve had friends ask me why I was taking a Journalism class when I’m not planning for a career in journalism. I’ve even had adults tell me that since I’m interested in STEM, I shouldn’t take Journalism as an elective because I could be taking another STEM-related course instead. If I had listened to this advice, I don’t think I would have developed the communicative and investigative skills that I possess today.
That’s not to say that knowing what field particularly excites you and committing to it is bad. I’m continuously inspired by those around me who are so passionate about the career they have their sights set on, and I’m so grateful that I’ve been a part of our community which has so many resources to enable exploration. However, we must not let these aspirations chain us to a select set of classes, clubs, and activities because these aren’t just stepping stones to our future careers. They are learning experiences and journeys in their own rights, and it’s time that we start appreciating and treating them as ways to branch out, find new interests, and broaden our horizons. Sampling other learning areas doesn’t have to draw away from your focus on your primary interest.
It’s true that we all have limited time and limited spots on our schedules, but that doesn’t make it impossible to start branching out. If you don’t feel comfortable committing to something new right away, pursuing projects at the intersection of your interest and another field is another option. Our intended majors and career goals need not limit us from exploring the sea of knowledge waiting for us.